I knew a Joyce once

“Schh…” The gallery owner scowled at the two women chatting loudly as he walked by.

The older lady giggled as she spotted a white price ticket attached to his black trousers.

You’ll get us kicked out,” the younger woman whispered.

The old lady beamed up at her carer from her wheelchair and took her hand. “Let me give you a manicure sometime, Sarah, I’ve not lost my touch, you know.”

“I’d like that. Right now though we should be going. I just need to… ah, there they are. Will you be OK here while I pop to the ladies?”

“Of course dear.”

“Or, do you need to…?”

“I’m fine. Happy to watch the world go by.”

As Sarah walked off, the old lady’s attention turned to a tall, distinguished man in his 70s walking towards her, smiling.

“Joyce?” he asked.

She shook her head.

The man’s smile disappeared.

It was then that she spotted the toy bear in his right hand.

The man looked down, following her gaze. “It’s my granddaughter’s. She’s in the café with her mother. I spotted you and… I’m sorry, I really thought…” he said, and headed to the café, shoulders slumped.

The old lady shrugged and stared at the painting in front of her; a small boy in a blue jacket that reminded her of someone. “I knew a Joyce once,” she said but didn’t expect the boy to answer, he was just a painting after all.

She was about to say something else to him when Sarah walked out of the ladies toilet, shaking her hands. “OK,” she said, “let’s go, shall we?”


“And no getting us in trouble again, OK, Joyce?”

“No dear, wouldn’t dream of it.”


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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.